Neoprene is an advanced material that offers different uses than foam.
The Germans experimented with the development of synthetic rubber during World War I when they had difficulty obtaining natural rubber from Brazil and Asia. Synthetic rubber became even more important during World War II when the Japanese conquered Malaysia and gained control over the rubber industry, because this created a crisis for the United States' automotive industry. All of these events led to the discovery of Neoprene and ester foams during the first half of the twentieth century.
|Neoprene is the trade name for DuPont Performance Elastomers. It was developed by DuPont in 1930 and at that time was called Duprene. It's uses are varied because it is chemically inert and resistant to oil, heat, light, and oxidation. Neoprene is sometimes considered a type of foam because of its properties; it can be formed into various shapes and it can return to its original shape after being squeezed or compressed. However, its properties do differ in many ways from what is thought of as foam.|
Ester foam was first developed in Germany in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a result of experiments to develop synthetic rubber. Polyurethane, or ether foam, wasn’t available for commercial use until the late 1950s when a new silicone additive stabilized the foam during the curing process. Polyurethane foam proved to have more applications than the original ester foam because it was resistant to humidity, it was cheaper to produce, and its texture was smooth and soft compared to the rough surface of ester foam.
|The softer and more flexible forms of polyurethane foam are used for cushions, pillows, furniture, and mattresses. More rigid forms are used for roofing insulation, packing materials, acoustics, athletic equipment, medical equipment (like braces), and water sports equipment. This material is strong yet flexible. Its properties and forms are determined by a variety of chemicals that are added to the basic ingredients. Some of these chemicals make the foam flexible, while others make it hard and rigid.|
Neoprene is best known as the material used for scuba diving suits and wet suits. It is an excellent material for these uses because it is a good insulator, it is waterproof, and it is stretchy. Neoprene can be glued together or stitched, and it is often used for koozies,car seat covers, lunch bags, fishing waders, laptop and cell phone covers, and gloves. Outdoor furniture cushions retain their shape and do not absorb moisture when they are made with Neoprene. Shock absorbing roll bar and handlebar covers can be made of Neoprene, and it improves pipe insulation because it is not affected by heat.
|Both foam and Neoprene can be used to make promotional products for imprint with a company’s logo or advertisement. Both items can be screen printed or stamped. Neoprene can be easily embroidered, whereas this procedure would be difficult (if not impossible) for foam items. A preference for Neoprene over foam is only determined by the proposed use of the product.|
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